Former first Lady Rosalynn Carter was laid to rest at her family’s home in Plains, Ga. on Nov. 29 following three days of memorials across her home state. She passed away on Nov. 19, aged 96.
Carter was buried after an intimate funeral held at the church she and her husband, former president Jimmy Carter, attended in the tiny town where they lived for most of their lives.
The three-day memorial began on Nov. 27 with a wreath laying ceremony at Carter’s alma mater, Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus, Ga. In the evening, the public was able to pay their respects as her remains lay in repose at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum.
On Nov. 28, dignitaries including all the living U.S. first ladies and multiple presidents attended a memorial service in Atlanta, Ga. celebrating the former first Lady’s life.
Who attended the memorial service?
Former president Jimmy Carter, 99, traveled to Atlanta from his home in Plains, Ga., where he is currently receiving hospice care, to attend his wife’s memorial service on Emory University’s campus. Video footage shows the former president being pushed in a wheelchair to the front row of the service.
He was joined by President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, along with their spouses. Former President Bill Clinton and all the living former First Ladies—Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, Michelle Obama and Melania Trump—also attended.
Georgia’s two U.S. senators and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and his wife, Marty, were also present, along with members of the Emory community, with whom the Carters had a longstanding relationship.
What happened at the memorial?
Tuesday’s service was an invitation-only tribute to the former First Lady. The service included some of her favorite Scripture passages and songs, including “America the Beautiful,” the Christian hymns “Blessed Assurance,” “Morning Has Broken,” “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” “What Wondrous Love Is This” and “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” as well as John Lennon’s “Imagine,” performed by country music stars Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks.
The Carters’ children and grandchildren, longtime aide and friend Kathryn Cade and journalist Judy Woodruff gave tributes.
Her son, James Earl “Chip” Carter III, said his mother was the “glue” that held the family together and credited her for helping him get into treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. “She saved my life,” he said.
Her daughter, Amy Carter, said her mother’s partnership and love story with her father was a defining feature of their lives. Speaking on behalf of her father, she read a letter Jimmy wrote to Rosalynn 75 years ago while he was serving in the U.S. Navy.
“My darling, every time I have ever been away from you I have been thrilled to return to discover just how wonderful you are,” the letter read. “When I see you, I fall in love with you all over again.”
What happened at the funeral?
Tuesday’s memorial service was followed by a funeral on Wednesday in Plains, Ga., the tiny town where Rosalynn Carter was born and lived for most of her life with Jimmy Carter.
Mourners lined the streets as the motorcade traveled from the family’s home to their church to say goodbye, passing tributes to the “First Lady of Plains.”
Her husband also attended the intimate, invitation-only funeral inside Maranatha Baptist Church on Wednesday, silent and in his wheelchair. The church, where Jimmy Carter taught Sunday school for years, hosts a wooden cross he made.
The former president and some other family members wore leis around their necks, while others donned Hawaiian shirts, a nod to Rosalynn Carter’s love for Hawaii when the couple lived there while Jimmy Carter was in the Navy.
Other attendees included church members and close friends. Several of Carter’s children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren spoke at the service. The couple’s grandson Josh Carter, who spoke on behalf of his father, the Carters' youngest son, called his grandmother "kind, loving and caring" and said she "was happiest whenever there was a new baby,” USA Today reported.
Maranatha Pastor Tony Lowden, the couple’s longtime friend and minister who officiated both services, on Wednesday paid tribute to “the life and legacy of the greatest first lady,” the Associated Press reported. Lowden added that nobody––either on the political right or the left––could find anything bad to say about Rosalynn Carter.
The funeral program featured more Scripture readings by some of her great-grandchildren, a musical rendition of “The Lord’s Prayer” by actress and singer Joanna Maddox, a performance from the Georgia Southwestern State University Concert Choir and the congregation joining together to sing “Amazing Grace,” the Washington Post reported. The service opened with the Christian hymn “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” and closed with another rendition of Lennon’s “Imagine,” played by pianist David Osborne.
Read TIME’s obituary for Carter, a pioneering First Lady who worked tirelessly to raise awareness for those with mental health illness, here.
Read about Carter’s decision to hire a wrongfully convicted murderer to serve as White House nanny here—and how they became lifelong friends.
Read about Jimmy Carter’s secret to living to 99, according to his grandson, here.
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Write to Simmone Shah at email@example.com